2024 Scholarship Winners

The 2024 Scholarship Award Ceremony was a memorable evening, filled with warmth and excitement. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who attended and supported the event. This year, we were thrilled to receive an overwhelming number of applications, making the selection process incredibly challenging for our scholarship committee. We wish we could have recognized each and every deserving applicant. The 2024 winners are as follows.

Kaleigh Durso

Kaleigh is a textbook Scholar-Athlete. She has excelled in her studies at New Hartford High School, where she maintains a weighted GPA above 100%. On the track, she is a standout athlete where she was a State Qualifier for High Jump and Pentathlon for every year she’s been in High School. These would be impressive enough stats, but Kaleigh herself admits that she ‘does not always enjoy running,’ but it has taught her many things about herself. Through the sport, she has learned how to push through difficult situations even when she wants to quit.

Her coaches describe her as ‘a model for younger teammates to aspire to,’ which is why she served as Co-Captain of the Cross Country team this year.

All of this combined with her decade as a Girl Scout, being a section leader of the Marching Band… her list of qualifications, well, in the words of her coach and teacher Peter Anderson, “She represents an excellent archetype for a responsible, respectable, and overachieving student.”

We are pleased to present this award to Kaleigh Durso, who plans to continue with Track and Field at SUNY Oswego, where she will be studying Computer Science.

Congratulations, Kaleigh!

Kierstin Simpson

Comes to us from Proctor High School and has an impressive resume in Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor Track and Field. Off the field, she is a dedicated student, in the top ten of her class, and volunteers with not only school organizations like the Environmental Club and National Honor Society, but with United Cerebral Palsy as well. Running has taught her tenacity - when she sets her mind to something and doesn’t give up, she will complete her goals.

Her AP Physics teacher agrees with Kierstin’s self-assessment of hard work, and describes her as ‘unyielding when she sets her mind to a task,’ and said she is ‘one of the most hard-working students I have ever had the pleasure of teaching.’ Her Cross Country and Track and Field Coach noted that she was named a NYS Scholar Athlete for every season, for three straight years, and notes that she will ‘be successful in whatever endeavor she sets her sights on.’

Next year, Kierstin is setting her sights on studying Speech Language Pathology and Audiology at Ithaca College, and whether she joins a team or not, she will never stop running.

Congratulations, Kierstin!

Frank Calhoun

Frank from New York Mills is a team leader on and off the field, not only the Captain of his Cross Country and track teams, but on Baseball as well. He has also been on All Conference Teams for each of those three sports.

Something he has learned about himself through running is that he has a great work ethic, and, in true Central New York fashion, he runs better in the cold!

His academic performance through a rigorous course-load is impressive, and he is currently a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, and is Class President. His math teacher and Baseball Coach praises Frank’s academic and athletic achievements, but adds that most impressive is his maturity, dedication, and leadership ability. His elementary gym coach and Varsity Cross Country and Track Coach praised his perseverance and conduct as a citizen, and said Frank personifies the three ingredients that every successful athlete needs: Desire, Dedication, and Drive.

Frank plans to continue running at SUNY Brockport, but seems more excited in his field of study, Exercise Science, where he will be able to help others better themselves and achieve their goals. Lucky for him, I’m pretty sure it’s cold out that way too.

Congratulations, Frank!



All writeups done by Travis Olivera



Logan Baker

We don’t have enough time here tonight to list all of Logan’s accomplishments on the field. Or on the trail. Suffice it to say, I don’t know many high school athletes by name. But I do know Logan’s. He has set records at Waterville High School. He is a four-sport athlete. He is captain or co-captain of Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, and Cross Country, all for at LEAST three years. He has represented Waterville and the Central New York Region at the State and National levels. Also, he’s Valedictorian of his class, while taking AP and dual-credit courses, and has a 4.0 GPA. Not only that, but he volunteers as an announcer for Waterville’s Pop Warner team, he’s Vice President of the Student Council, Class President, and is even in the Jazz Band.

In his recommendation letters, the terms ‘disciplined’ and ‘dedicated’ come up regularly, but not without positivity. His coach referred to him as a ‘true leader,’ and said he was ‘fortunate to have worked with him.’ His math teacher praised his ability to listen and noted that he is well respected among his peers and the faculty.

In his own words, Logan says that running has taught him discipline, and how hard work pays off, and that he is grateful for the lifelong friendships he has made along the way.

Next year, Logan heads to SUNY Geneseo to study Physical Therapy and continue to compete for their track and cross country teams.

Congratulations, Logan!

Jasmine Connor

This year, we had a standout application from one more student, Jasmine Connor, from Proctor High School, who the committee chose to receive the Grit award. This award isn’t given every year, but when someone comes along displaying courage and resolve and shows a true strength of character, we arrange for this to be a part of our ceremony.

I think Jasmine’s own words are a good place to start for why we chose her as this special award recipient. “I am by no means an Olympic athlete and I’m certainly not the greatest student. However, I am very determined and always finish what I start. I’m willing to learn new things and get out of my comfort zone, even when it’s unconventional or difficult.” Most of us can relate to not excelling at running, but it’s the importance of dedication and a commitment to gradual improvement that help us.

She goes on to say how she has struggled with anxiety and self esteem issues, how running has helped her work through them, and how this experience taught her the need to invest in helping those with mental health issues. She plans to make a positive contribution to these efforts, by achieving a master’s degree in Psychology, starting with studies here at MVCC.

Her coach describes her as hard working, dependable, selfless, and kind, and that her kindness has helped in welcoming younger distance runners into the program. She notes how Jasmine, as the oldest sibling of five in a single-parent household, has more responsibility than many of her peers, and has still found opportunities to intern at Wynn Hospital. Her social studies teacher describes Jasmine as strong, resilient, and a team player.

It is our pleasure to present the Grit award to Jasmine Connor